Album Review : Troy Redfern – The Fire Cosmic

Review by Peter Coates –

Released – August 6th
RED7 Records

Blues-rock guitarist, singer- songwriter and dubbed Britain’s “King of Slide Guitar” Troy Redfern has produced an exceptional new album in The Fire Cosmic laden in layers of slide guitar and acoustic resonator sounds – raunchy, sleazy vintage blues rock.

Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales, with Darby Todd (The Darkness / Paul Gilbert) on Drums, and Dave Marks (Hans Zimmer) on Bass, and mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road, this record has some serious pedigree.

As Troy said, “I chose Rockfield Studios because so much of the music I grew up listening to was recorded at this legendary studio (Queen, Black Sabbath, Mott The Hoople). The studio is hallowed ground for every musician, and the rooms there are charged with so much magic and history of all the iconic, classic albums that have been produced there.”  Darby brought his Ludwig Vistalite kit to get the best of the massive drum sound in the studio’s renowned drum room, and this is one of the critical elements of the sound.

Guesting on one track, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal said “it all starts with the drums, if you’ve got a great drummer, great sounding room, great board. It’s going to sound phenomenal, and it does!”.

There is something unique and explosive in the sounds Troy is able to wrench from his guitars, and the use of the Resonator provides something quite special in the layered harmonies and sonic roughness of the underlying tones.  The wild sounding opening of Scorpio tears its way out of the swamp like a rockabilly biker brandishing a flaming Gretsch, an absolute rip-snorter of a track, with Troy providing an intense vocal line over the multiple melody lines of bass and guitars, and the solo adds another level of wildness to the whole thing.   If this track does not grab your attention in a way that slams you up against the wall with bleeding ears, then you can probably stop now!

The steel resonator guitar and the rollicking riff it delivers is the basis for the powerhouse boogie of Waiting For Your Love with a huge catchy chorus, and Troy’s raucous voice is the perfect counter to the power of the guitars.  By track 3, it is clear that this wall of slide guitar noise is a trademark, and One Way Ticket is like a Bon Jovi anthem with the slide guitars on overdrive, and a monster chorus that Desmond Child would have killed to have written!  Love & War is more of a straight-up blues rock track, with that killer drum groove, and out of nowhere it explodes into a massive chorus, and Tory delivers a solo that drags itself out of the riffs and takes on a life of its own as it builds up to a climax – making it clear that Troy has got the chops as well as the riffs.

Riff of the year blasts out of the grooves with On Fire, which features Ron Thal on his twin-neck, and is more of a heavy trash-rock number, and the solo is so different to anything Troy delivers that you’d know it was someone else.  Searing and intricate guitar work then leads into some powerhouse riffing as the track builds up to the final feral chorus.

Back to the slide guitar with a funky touch in Lay That Love Down, all Electric Boys and Bad Company-style 1970’s blues-rock swagger, and a multi-layered harmony vocal extravaganza in the chorus.  There are lead breaks all through the verses and choruses, that are supercharged in the solo, while the band powers along with the rock-sold backing.

There is a new video for the single release Ghosts, which returns to the signature sounds of the resonator, although with rambling acoustic guitars and spaghetti western vibe that give it an altogether different feel, melancholy and intense, with a drawl in the vocal delivery.  The tempo rolls along like a desert train-ride, before the searing slide-guitar solo takes control.

A total change of mood in the acoustic ballad Saving Grace with the Beatles-style harmonies and a really different plaintiff melody in the vocals that is echoes in the overlaid guitar lines.  This could be a gentle intro that builds into something massive, but Troy takes it a different direction in the mid-section with the vocal interplay which gives it real character.  Back to the frenetic and raucous with Sanctify, a heavy blues boogie stomp, that epitomises what Troy Redfern is all about, and demands that the volume gets turned up, and that multiple listens are required to really grasp the depth and complexity of the guitar work.  This and Scorpio can just play on repeat for the next hour or two!

The album closes with Stone, an emotional roots rocker, all vintage slide guitar, and a southern mountain drawl of the vocals in the early verses and chorus, which have the semi-gospel feel in the backing vocals.  The build-up of the snare drums signals a shift into a 70’s rock ballad, while the slide guitar rambles along underpinning the melody, before soaring into the skies and beyond for the solo, while those BVs continue, Joe Cocker style, through to a dramatic melodic finale, played out on the piano on which Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded!

Taking advantage of the COVID lockdown, Troy recorded and released a total of 5 albums in 2020 alone… there is no shortage of music out there to explore.  But if you only buy one Troy Redfern album this year, make sure it is this one

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Ghosts video: 

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Photo credit Haluk Gurer
Photo credit Rob Blackham